Longtime fishing partners found dead near empty boat in SC lake, officials say

Two longtime mates and fishing companions who had been additionally beloved sports activities coaches had been discovered lifeless floating close to a ship on a South Carolina lake, in accordance with mates and officers.

Jerry Stoots, 75, and Lee Watkins, 68, had been discovered on Lake Moultrie in Pinopolis simply earlier than 2 p.m. on Jan. 24, in accordance with the Berkeley County Coroner’s Workplace.

An individual who lives close by reported seeing one physique floating within the lake, and rescuers discovered the second physique in the identical space, a information launch from the coroner’s workplace says.

The fishermen had been doubtless within the water for a “quick time frame,” the discharge says. An post-mortem has been scheduled for Jan. 26.

Stoots was the “winningest high school baseball coach in South Carolina historical past” and was inducted into the state’s Athletic Coaches Affiliation Corridor of Fame, in accordance with the Publish and Courier. He had greater than 925 profession wins at three South Carolina colleges over 48 seasons, the outlet reported.

He additionally coached soccer and labored for a number of seasons as the top soccer coach at R.B. Stall Excessive Faculty in North Charleston, the outlet reported.

After leaving Stall Excessive Faculty, he went on to begin a soccer program at Northwood Academy in Summerville, Ryan Leaver, the academy’s assistant principal instructed McClatchy Information. Watkins additionally labored at Stall Excessive Faculty and Northwood Academy as a soccer coach with Stoots, Leaver mentioned.

“Their bond and friendship was admirable,” Leaver mentioned of the 2 coaches.

Leaver mentioned Stoots was typically a quiet particular person, however he commanded plenty of respect amongst his gamers and fellow coaches.

“When he talked, you simply needed to hear,” Leaver mentioned.

Stoots was “from a special technology” and carried a pocket book with him to maintain monitor of performs, Leaver mentioned. He loved getting along with mates at fish fries and speaking about life and household.

Watkins was “most likely one of the real individuals I’ve ever identified,” Leaver mentioned. He would usually name Leaver simply to verify in on him and his spouse and children.

Kenny Wilkinson, a 1976 graduate of Stall Excessive Faculty who performed each soccer and baseball below Stoots, instructed the Publish and Courier that he was a “nice coach however an excellent higher man.”

“Lots of people don’t understand the affect he had on so many younger guys who later received into teaching, serving to him coach,” Wilkinson instructed the outlet. “He was all the time giving guys alternatives and he took care of his gamers all by means of life.”

Lake Moultrie is 60,400 acres and the third-largest lake in South Carolina. It’s about 40 miles north of Charleston.

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